Mishpacha. It’s a word I know to mean “family and friends”. It is a word that conveys a sense of warmth and community. When I asked local filmmaker Cara Greene Epstein if there are any Jewish themes in her upcoming film, Dragonfly, she replied, “Mishpacha is at the center of Dragonfly. It’s all about family and family relationships and that is, of course, a very Jewish idea.” Cara is the writer, but also the co-director, and lead actress in this tale of mishpacha in Minneapolis. She has teamed up with producer (and sister-in-law) Mim Epstein, and director Maribeth Romslo.
In Cara’s own words, “Dragonfly is a story of homecoming and healing for a Minnesota family divided by divorce and illness. On the other side, it’s a story about three women tackling their dream of filmmaking head on.”
A former NFTY Northern Region President, Cara grew up at Temple Israel in Minneapolis. She is an actor, writer, director, teaching artist, wife and mother. Producer Mim Epstein is also a NFTY Northern Region alum and member of the Minneapolis Jewish community. She was named one of the “32 under 32″ by the Advertising Federation of Minnesota in 2013. Director Maribeth Romslo is a Minneapolis native, long-time friend of Cara’s, and owner of Hello Sunshine Films. (Their Kickstarter page shows the impressive extent of their individual credentials and accolades). They have all been successful individually and they are each realizing another dream with this endeavor.
Dragonfly is a feature film led by women. According to a 2013 Cellluloid Ceiling report, female rolls behind camera only make up about 16% of the labor force, and just 30% on screen. Not only is Dragonfly a female-led production, but women make up a full 50% of the team’s numbers both on and off camera. Cara, Mim, and Maribeth are excited to expand the roll of women in film. They are equally as excited to make a movie in their hometown. All three are Minnesota natives and agreed the film is a “love letter to Minneapolis.” Cara’s vision was always rooted here.
“From the very beginning, I wanted to make this movie in the Twin Cities because that’s where my village is.” Cara says, “You can’t undertake a project like this alone and I knew that I was going to need a ton of help. It takes a village and Minnesota is where my village is [. . . ] The Twin Cities Jewish community is, and always has been, the core of that village for me.”
Now in the final stages of the filmmaking process, Cara, Mim, and Maribeth are looking for continued support from their extended family – us. As we head into the New Year, we are asked to reflect on our past and to pray for our future. We are encouraged to turn to those around us and wish them L’Shana Tova – a good New Year. We break bread with our families and congregations, hopefully with a sense of renewal and peace. This year, the female-led, locally grown production needed to raise $45,000 in three weeks to make their dream a reality. Yesterday afternoon, with two full weeks to spare, they hit their goal! They were busy filming so we couldn’t immediately reach them to find out whether there would be stretch goals added, but even if not, there are reward perks still available if you want to contribute. In the meantime, details, clips, and a behind the scenes look at the movie are all available at their Kickstarter page.
To make a pledge you can visit the Kickstarter site and donate directly, or you can visit their website for links and detailed bios on the cast and crew!
Elise Cole lives in St. Paul with her husband Peter and their dog Sookie. She has a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies from Hamline University and has studied creative writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.